Computer Buyer's Guide: Beyond The Ivory Tower
Computer Buyer's Guide: Beyond The Ivory Tower
Ali Nasri (Computer Specialist, Mac 911 Inc.) gives expert video advice on: What are the top 3 computer problems you see on a daily basis?; What do you wish your clients knew before calling you? and more...
When did you first start working with computers?
I started about 14 years ago working professionally with computers. I have been working with computers for over 2 years just as a hobby but after I graduated from UCLA, I started working Personal Support Computers in West LA. That's when I got my start with a Mac. I was always a PC guy before that. But once I started working with a Mac I kind of fell in love with the whole system. I was a biology major at UCLA and I was actually a pre-med. I was going to go to medical school but I was taking a year off and Felix, my business partner, he used to be the manager of Personal Support Computers so he said, "Why don't you come work for me during the year that you are off." I went there, and I always loved computers, and it was always a puzzle for me to try to figure out the problem. I really liked it. We opened our own business 1994. Ever since, we have been in Santa Monica doing our computer repair.
What are the top 3 computer problems you see on a daily basis?
Probably the number one problem is system software corruption. The computer's not booting up all the way. And reinstalling the system will about 80 percent of the time fix that problem. Another problem we see are hard drive crashes. People don't back up their data, and unfortunately, hard drives will go bad. It's just a matter of when. Hard drive replacements themselves are not that difficult to do, but if you don't have the data backed up, you have to start all over again, and it's not a good thing. And the third thing is actually mechanical problems with a computer, beyond the hard drive, where sometimes you can have a processor go back, or memory go bad, or power supplies go bad, where the computer won't even turn on at all.
Are computers becoming easier to repair?
Computers are actually becoming more difficult to repair, I think. Desktops are really becoming easier to repair. They are designed well, and it's easier to get into, but laptops are becoming smaller and smaller, and all the parts are being crammed into smaller areas and over the years I've seen laptops get more and more difficult to actually repair.
What do you wish your clients knew before calling you?
I think the number one thing I want my computer clients to know before calling me would be to be able to explain the problem clearly. Often, clients bring in machines for us to repair and they tell us the symptom of what's wrong with the computer, but they fail to tell us, for example, how the problem started or how they can reproduce that problem. Sometimes just adding one extra sentence, or being really clear on something, would make the repair job a lot easier for because we know exactly where to focus on. Think how to communicate the exact nature of the computer problem. Sometimes it's difficult because that's not the client's job. Obviously, they're not going to have the terminology or the expertise in describing accurately what's happening. Other times, they think that problems are really easy to fix. We'll have people asking to clean their computers. Do you want us to physically clean it? But what they mean is that it's running really slow. They don't know that when the computer's running slow it could be due to a full hard drive, it could be corrupt files, it could be a defective hard drive or it could be other hardware problems that have gone wrong with the computer. Fixing a computer problem is often not very simple.
How easy is it to back up my data on my computer?
It's very simple. There is no excuse not to back up your system. There are a multitude of backup media that you can use from USB flash drives that plug into your USB port. You can drag and drop your important documents and files on there. You can backup to CDs. You can back up to DVDs. You can back up to external hard drives. Almost all computers will come with at least a CD burner. CDs are real cheap, 5 or 10 cents each. Pop one of those in there and back your files up. When your drive does go bad, you won't have to worry about it.
What is "webmail"?
Webmail is email that is not stored on your computer but it is, rather, stored on the Internet. Examples of webmail accounts are Hotmail, Gmail from Google, or Yahoo mail. Those accounts you establish on the Internet. You can send and receive email no matter what computer you're on. As long as you have a computer that's connected to the Internet, be it a Mac or a PC, anywhere in the world you're at, you can access your email and you can send and receive email because that email account is not on your computer locally. It's stored remotely, and the advantage of that is that if your computer is stolen or crashes, you do not lose your email. You can log into any other computer and have access to it.